Poetry: It Starts by Jennifer Patino

It Starts

initial shock begins
in the heart — a few skips
to jumpstart panic
allowing the mind
to fill unknowns
with onslaughts

logic is a bully
punching its way
through the process,
the what,   how,   the escape
routes      the why
will come later
when breathing resumes,
when you’ve formed
an opinion
based on the opinions
of others      those
inferno takes,    
those sounds
with jaws,    the
media brunch
vomited & shared,
    spread

      germs from the
scrolling dead,
attention spanned
across the 2.5 seconds
it will take
to board up a window,
order canned goods
to be delivered by drone,
      to load your weapons,
to wish you had some

how it ends is resignation,
how reality is undeniable,
how the temptations
    in the medicine cabinet
    are the only things left
    that know your name

how it ends is on a white wall,
a gruesome, gorgeous picture
of all you’re made of
     before it’s eaten

and who holds the spoon?
     it’s you in the mirror,
     it’s you in the flat screen,
     it’s you telling you
     you told you so

it’s you repeating
what intuition screamed
while your ears
were being bombarded

while the mind
concocted
futile plans
of action when
you should have been
attacking

it starts in an agreed upon
“new normal”,
it ends with Cassandra,
stunned and stuttering
on a street corner

      but the bent heads
      don’t see her,    the
      gabbing elite
      drown her out

it ends when she smiles

     it starts again when you
     open your eyes



Bio: Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet from Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She lives for books and film. She has had work featured in Door is A Jar, Punk Noir Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Free Verse Revolution Lit, and elsewhere. She blogs at www.thistlethoughts.com

New Poem “Gutter Girls” by Jennifer Patino

Gutter Girls

Gutter girls never forget
to look up on meteor shower
nights. Hope equals stardust,
glitter crust in the early mornings,
face plastered to a leather sofa
in a strange time zone. Jet lag
for weeks after a peach schnapps
bender. Blinking alarm clock
as a message.

Gutter girls practice eulogies
in the fogged up mirrors
of hotel bathrooms three miles
off rez. Feel like home in
the woodlands, bless the absence
of city sounds. Apply chapstick
heavily, multiple times daily,
to lick their lips constantly
because they are addicted
to the taste. They lug around
a purse big enough to fit
an entire life in. Their
mothers and grandmothers' lives
too. Never learned how to let go
so they hold on to everything.

Gutter girls map boundaries
using the birch line as a blueprint.
Mourn the cost of paper but know
the best is always written
in the dirt road after a rainstorm.
Fall in love too easily, carve names
of dream lovers into a park bench.
Cross out mistakes. Cross out
their mistaken identities. Correct
the world with a wide eyed gasp
and a stubbed nail jab to a rib bone.

Gutter girls use the address
of their birthplace as 'cred'. Leave
a lot of voicemails to ensure confirmation,
validation of existence. Tell you everything
to your face because they hate
how backs look when people walk away.
Love too much, cry too much,
sleep too much. Pick berries
in summertime. Have purple stained
fingertips they coordinate
with their skirts.

Gutter girls hold hands like
they're holding the dying. Can see
an aura the moment after making
eye contact. Are used to rough
surfaces. Talk the most to ghosts.
Sigh prayerfully. Disappear eventually,
like scars. Gutter girls fade
like the photographs of their smiles
that they never let anyone see.



Bio: Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet from Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She lives for books and film. She has had work featured in Door is A Jar, Punk Noir Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Free Verse Revolution Lit, and elsewhere. She blogs at www.thistlethoughts.com. 


Two Poems from Jennifer Patino for our online “Trauma Letters Anthology”


Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino


Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino

Two Poems from Jennifer Patino for our online “Trauma Letters Anthology”

white lined paper

(c) Dim Hou on Unsplash.

Disable

  During the healing,
the green ladies said I could
dance in my dreams
and it would be the same
as dancing in the rain
after the first week
in the new town,
where mud filled the streets
and truth be told,
where it all went down

  Downhill is how I ended
up on this makeshift massage
table     I drank the art of
dancing and closed my eyes
too quickly as the carpet
turned to sand

     The boys just watched,
   were you surprised?
   They're wasting time
   trying to show me
   what makes a man

   Mud, and it can be
washed away     The
healers say I'm purified
They can feel my
organs shrinking
I feel what it is to be
a bubble

(“You girls are nothing but trouble”)

    One of the emeralds looks
like a poet I admire
Her eyes are what I take
from this impromptu session
I promise to dance my way
through all of life's lessons
She knows it will always
be better in my mind

   Now we're out of time
and it's desert dry,
the verdant landscape
is no more     Dancing
shoes replaced with
comfy slippers and
hiding from unexpected
knocks on doors

    Recovery is a journey
with no end in sight,
but you move with its rhythm
because it feels better
even if some things
can never be made right



51 50

Day 1:

There are four strangers in my living room. Their clothing is dark but they look like angels. I call one of them by their first and last name. He's stunned. “I've never met her before in my life.” They strap me to a carriage and I am floating. I can't count the overhead lights because it's off rhythm with the Kesha song cycling through my head. I suddenly fear bombs and feel that this whole thing is terribly wrong. I open my eyes later and see a smiling lawyer on a billboard. I know now I'm not at home anymore. I'm sure I've died.

These sirens for me
I've been lured somehow, floating
Confusing ocean

Day 2:

I'm pacing around the white room away from the white coats. I pace around a table. I sit at a table. I stand up and pace again. I think my movements are fluid. There are white papers on the table and I'm too paranoid to sign them. I black out and the room is full of water. Then it all drains, and it's empty again except for a frazzled doctor. She's out of breath, wide eyed, and staring at me. I don't recognize myself in the mirrors lining the left wall, but I knew even before I fell asleep that there were other me's here. I don't know which one is real or which one is my future ghost.

Too many doorways
They say all are closed to me
But I defy them

Day 3:

I don't remember visitors. I'm supposed to remember them. I don't remember what day it is. I wring my hands and they're scaly. My dead self is flaking off. I am raw. I am given industrial strength soap that tears more of me off. They say a part of me took off days ago. They ask me strange questions. I think I'm there for something else.

“I think you're possessed”
Staff members are scaring me
I will not trust them

Day 4:

The sun is too bright. I pace around the garden wrapped in a blanket. I go in when it is too hot, shuffle around the rec room, and go back out when the ever-pumping AC makes it freezing. Alarms go off because someone tries to escape. I think it's Sunday. Football on the tube tells me it's true. I see my shining star that night. I walk the hallways after hours when he's out of sight and there's an Elton John concert on the TV that me and another insomniac are given special permission to watch. We sing quietly. We hold hands. We are sent to bed.

I'm crying for home
“So goodbye yellow brick road”
Can I go back soon?

Day 5:

The judges are the jury. They say I can't leave early. They don't know what's wrong with me. I start inventing things wrong with me based on prescription drug commercials that trigger us all on the TV. The thing is always on. It's a clearer picture than what's through the barred windows. It's clearer than the fog in everyone's heads. I can't feel my face from whatever they have me on. Another patient slaps me after coming in for a hug. It's a surprise attack. She's been here one day less than me and she's learned nothing. I haven't spake unless spoken to in three days.

I read “Ariel”
I wonder if it's cliché
or just worrying

Day 6:

I recognize my visitor. I've been waiting all day. I feign smiles through arts and crafts. I write a letter home lying about how this experience has made me feel so much better. I think this is what they want. I know they're watching us. What I really want to write is: “There is so much that needs to be done with how mental health is handled here in America and I'm too afraid to speak up. I will be silent about this because they've already put so many stigmas on me that I'm buried in them. I will forever be afraid of this happening again until the day that I die and it will change me.”

 Every single day
“Just be yourself” they tell me
Then I'm locked away

Day 7:

They tell me I'm going home and I'm happy. I'm nervous about screwing it up though. I'm exceptionally good. I chat with nurses like a “normal person” while silently cursing them through my teeth. I still don't sleep fitfully. I read my notebook for the week. They gave me a soft sponge wrapped around a piece of lead to write with to keep me calm. I'm shocked. Someone wrote in my book but I won't recognize myself in those words until later. And even then whoever I was is now long gone.

Making it alive
The goal once I realized
I had nowhere to hide

Day 8:

I finally step into the sunshine with my head down. I continue this practice for all of my days.

It's just
safer
this way


Bio: Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet from Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She lives for books and film. She has had work featured in Door is A Jar, Punk Noir Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Free Verse Revolution Lit, and elsewhere. She blogs at www.thistlethoughts.comFevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino

3 poems by Jennifer Patino : “Postcard” “the Thaw” & “Watching Rosemary’s baby at 6 AM”

Twitter: @thoughtthistles




























Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jennifer: I wrote little stories about the squirrels in the front yard of my childhood home at the age of six but began to take writing more seriously at the age of nine. I was really into The Babysitters Club books by Ann M. Martin. I loved reading so much and making up stories to tell my siblings and cousins so it just made sense to me that I should be writing them down. One of my favorite Babysitters Club characters, Mallory Pike, wanted to be an author too and kept a journal so of course I followed suit. It also makes sense that a fictional character was my biggest influence back then as well. I was a very imaginative child and I sought solace in characters from books and TV. Most of my childhood writings were fan fiction.

Q2: Who is your biggest influence today?

Jennifer: I read a lot so it’s very difficult to pinpoint a single influence. I’ve also met a lot of people over my lifetime who have become poems. Some of them were people I only encountered once. I’m influenced by a lot, but for the sake of answering the question I’ll list some writers who have inspired me: Walt Whitman, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Diane Burns, Sherman Alexie, and Willliam S. Burroughs.

3. Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art?

Jennifer: I lived in Detroit, MI until I was thirteen years old and then Springhill, FL until my late twenties. Since my writing now is mostly nostalgic, both of these places and life events I experienced there have heavily influenced my writing. I’m not going to spill my traumas here—my life has never been easy—but both places hold huge signifiance for me on many levels. Michigan will always be home and the place I return to in my mind the most. It’s the only place I’ve lived in that had all four seasons and I’ve come to learn how that cyclic change is very important for my well-being. Times were somewhat easier and simpler then so I associate that place with so much goodness. The desire and hope that I will be able to move back and hopefully die there eventually is all over my writing. Florida is influential for a lot of other reasons. It’s a place I avoid as much as possible, except in my writing, because there’s so much about living there that I really would love to just purge. I grew up in different ways in both places so they’re both definitely in my work.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced work & describe?

Jennifer: I have not traveled much in my lifetime for the sole purpose of traveling. The two trips I have taken for vacation purposes were in my twenties. I went to Las Vegas once and when friends fell in love with the place and wanted to live here someday, I told them all they were crazy and I would never even consider it. Well, life had other plans. I currently live in Las Vegas and believe me, I never imagined I’d live here and I’ll admit I’m still not a very big fan of it. It is way too hot for my liking. Living in three different parts of the United States at various stages in my life that are so vastly different from each other is a definite influence. Every new place created a whole new me. I had to grow and adapt to new ages, maturity levels, locations, and worsening chronic illnesses. As I said before, I hope my next and last stop will be home again.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/poet/writer?

When I was nine this old man who ran a neighborhood newsletter asked my friends and I if any of us wrote or drew pictures and wanted to be featured in it. I liked writing creepy stories and had a lot of them so it was perfect that he specifically asked for something spooky because it was October. I wrote a few stories for the newsletter until he ran out of money to keep it going. He gifted me an old typewriter and that was when I knew I would be writing for the rest of my life. I was addicted to that thing. I typed up every thought in my head and annoyed my sister with the clunky sounds it made. It broke beyond repair right before I moved with my family down to Florida, but by then computers were becoming the thing. I learned to type early but I still kept notebooks and that continues today. Sometimes I have better flow with the keyboard, other times I can only write with the pen.

Q6: Favorite activities when not writing/creating to relax?

Jennifer: What is this “relax” thing that you speak of? laughs As I said I love to read. I’ll read just about anything. I prefer darker literature, memoir type stuff, and poetry the most though. I’m also a huge lover of film. I can spend entire days watching movies and due to chronic pain, I often do. I also listen to a lot of different types of music and that can be relaxing too, especially if I’m in the mood to sing along. I’m also a huge fan of phone calls. Most people hate the phone but the rare few I know that I can talk with for hours are treasured by me.

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work?

Jennifer:

I just had a story published in Punk Noir Magazine called “Snapped”. https://punknoirmagazine.com/2021/06/22/snapped-by-jennifer-patino/

Forthcoming, some of my microfiction will be published in a horror anthology. It’s going to be a collection of #horrorprompt tweets from over the years by those who participate in the writing prompt over on Twitter. https://twitter.com/horrorprompt

Q8: One of your favorite lines from one of your poems/songs?

Jennifer:  
 "but I'm certain
  of sounds from the dark
  keeping me awake,
  of navigating postictal
  through tunneled hallways,
  & of the last image
   I recall before the long fall"

I can't ever pick favorites, but this stanza from a poem I wrote called “After the Shock” sticks out in my mind at the moment. My “epilepsy poems” often stand out for me. Some of them I've written while my head is still in that post-seizure, postictal state and that's always a surprise to find while I'm editing. Being diagnosed with epilepsy has changed so much of my life and the way I write. It's something I'll  never escape from because it's my own brain.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Jennifer: There are two people. My high school drama/English teacher for telling me “Wow, these aren't your typical angsty teen poems” while reading my work. He was a writer himself and he gave me a lot of advice and encouragement to keep learning, writing, and improving. I still remember our talks about writing and I learned more in those conversations than in my entire high school career.

The second was a dear writer/editor friend of mine that I corresponded with for many years who unfortunately passed away in 2013. He helped me break through a lot during discouraged times in my life where I was ready to call it quits when it came to the whole writing thing. I'll never forget either one of them or the advice they so kindly offered to me.

Thank you, Fevers of the Mind, for wanting to interview me.

Bio: Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet from Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She lives for books and film. She has had work featured in Door is A Jar, Punk Noir Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Free Verse Revolution Lit, and elsewhere. She blogs at www.thistlethoughts.com

3 poems by Jennifer Patino : “Postcard” “the Thaw” & “Watching Rosemary’s baby at 6 AM”

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino

Audrey Hepburn Challenge: Some Things A Lady Just Wears Well by Jennifer Patino

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 20210525_094757.jpg
(c)Maggs Vibo for digital poetry artwork

Some Things a Lady Just Wears Well

I am the Audrey
with the pink chucks at the party
wearing oversized shades at night
Scary thin, decked in
dazzling cubic zirconia,
coming down
from a med withdrawal
after my last psychotic episode
involving a Golden Hollywood
delusion & fear of having cancer

Some Gregory Peckerhead
bums my smokes when he
has a full pack in his pocket,
but my sweet meter is high,
like those fools at the makeshift
blackjack table with pixie stick dust
on their upper lips & caked
between their nasal strips
because their vice supplier
never bothered showing up

It should be Halloween, but it's too warm
& there aren't enough demons
on the dance floor
I let the moochy one lead me there
where there's an awkward
exchange of one liners
His Bogart impersonation is the worst,
but I know i'm falling in love
because impulsivity
is the new 'You Can Heal Your Life'
& dammit, he can really move

We're the clean up crew, sober at dawn
I'm Sabrina sweeping up glass
& scrubbing vomit from the floor
He's singing 'Get Me to the Church on Time'
because it's Sunday
& lapsed Catholicism is a topic
we discussed hours ago
before the kisses, before
the Moon River descent,
before the exchange of names

He's driving me home
in a minivan
His mamma's rosary
hangs on the rearview mirror,
catching the sun
causing disco prisms
& paparazzi bulbs
to sting my face
"Hey babe," he says
stroking his stubbly chin,
"How 'bout Breakfast at Taco Bell?"
It's no Roman Holiday,
but I'll call it a win,
except when we get there
it's not open



 Bio: Jennifer Patino is an Ojibwe poet from Detroit, Michigan currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. She lives for books and film. She has had work featured in Door is A Jar, Punk Noir Magazine, The Chamber Magazine, Free Verse Revolution Lit, and elsewhere. She blogs at www.thistlethoughts.com. 

Two Poems from Jennifer Patino for our online “Trauma Letters Anthology”

 Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jennifer Patino

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